CHL Snapshot – Countdown to Opening Night
Evansville fans everywhere have been buzzing this offseason with the amount of changes that took place in the organization and with the puck dropping for the first time in the new state-of-the-art Ford Center in early November.
Last year, Evansville was the lone Turner Conference team to miss the post-season finishing with a record of 21-32-13 (55 points). The record is a bit deceiving as the IceMen were competitive in nearly every game falling an amazing 13 times in overtime or a shootout. The 13 one-point efforts was one shy of the CHL record in that category. This year, head coach and general manager Rich Kromm has done a tremendous job of recruiting and with a new logo, new building and many new players, the IceMen look to give their fans something to cheer about all season long.
When the offseason came around, the Icemen were quick to start signing players and were already looking to improve from last year. One of the first players Evansville made sure to bring back was forward Nicklas Lindberg, an 8-year-pro, looks to build on his 2010-11 season when he had 69 points (15g, 54a) in 65 games. He finished among the league leader in points and was atop his team’s statistical categories in most offensive areas.
|Forward Nicklas Lindberg
In addition, Evansville agreed to terms with 2010-11 Team MVP and CHL All-Star, Brian Bicek. Known around the league for his speed and agility, Bicek led the Icemen in many scoring categories with his 61 points in 66 games. He was the number one goal scorer for Evansville with 27 strikes on the season, and second in assists with 34.
During this offseason and after 18 pro seasons, the Icemen announced the retirement of one of minor pro hockey’s all-time career greats, Jeff Nelson. Last year, Nelson wore the captain’s jersey for the IceMen, and reflected his experience to the younger players. In 62 games played last year, he finished with 42 points (15g, 27a).
After the 2010-11 season, Evansville front office knew they needed to make some changes if they wanted to be contenders for the cup this season. So when the offseason came around, they did not waste any time.
One of the biggest additions in all of the CHL was Todd Robinson who will be embarking on his 13th pro season. During his past 12 years, Robinson has scored more points than any other player during that time frame combining 311 goals with 823 assists for an amazing total of 1,134 points in 805 games.
The blue line will be in good hands with the additions of Steve Makway and Philippe Plante (played in Odessa last season). The 6-5, 230-pound Makway played in Europe and put up 37 points (6g, 31 a) in 50 games. Plante has 13 pro seasons under his belt with last year reflecting 31 points (6g, 25a) in 63 games played.
An interesting pick-up was Sean O’Connor who played for the local-rivals, the Fort Wayne Komets, for the past three seasons. O’Connor is a nifty forward who last season finished with 38 points (14g, 24a) in 57 games played.
Evansville has been working hard for opening day because it will be the first game played in the new arena, the Ford Center. This new $127 million arena is state-of-the-art and will seat around 9,000 screaming fans.
The addition of the new arena led to the addition of an updated logo and jerseys. The new IceMen logo will maintain the elements inherent to the franchise original logo design while at the same time gaining a more updated, modernized look and appearance.
Also the home and away jerseys will respectively be White with Navy and Sky trim, and Navy with Sky and White trim. The new IceMen character crest will prominently adorn the chest with the club’s secondary logos set on each shoulder area of the jersey.
Be sure to check back to www.centralhockeyleague.com as we will preview a team a day counting down to the start of the regular season.
Friday, October 7 - Laredo Bucks
Sunday, October 9 - Quad City Mallards
Monday, October 10 - Wichita Thunder